Tuesday morning the Washington County Commissioners Court will take a vote that could greatly impact the future of Brenham and Washington County. The Commissioners will vote on whether to join the City of Brenham in agreeing to rebate a portion of future sales tax from a new shopping center being built off Highway 290. The City is asking the County to rebate $2 million in sales taxes over the life of a 14 year agreement with developer Baker Katz. The City would rebate $4 million, and provide infrastructure improvements for the site of the 35 acre shopping center just south of Highway 290 off Chappell Hill Street. The center, scheduled to open in early 2021, is expected to produce around $400,000 in annual sales taxes for the City alone.
The City has already agreed to cover the entire $6 million in tax abatements should the County “opt out” of the agreement. So why should the County join them? Why not just keep 100% of the tax money generated by this new shopping center? It’s my opinion that the County should “opt in” because this development is what citizens of the City and the County have been seeking for a long time. It’s anticipated to include a nationally known sports merchandising anchor opening in 2021, with additional shopping and dining opening by the end of that year. The new center is expected to add between fifteen and twenty million dollars to the local tax rolls.
I believe this new development is just the start of an exciting future for Brenham and Washington County. This deal is a progressive, proactive approach that shows our leaders have a true vision for the future. I know there are those that say these major retailers would come anyway without the tax abatements and other incentives. Well, I would say they haven’t come yet in my lifetime. I’m excited to see the City leading the economic development and tourism of our area, and hope the County recognizes that this is a good deal for our future. It’s time to put aside the years of bickering and non-communication between the City and County. Join this agreement and do something together to improve Brenham and Washington County’s future.
And that’s the way it looks to this Spectator.